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Climate and Weather

Hong Kong - Climate and Weather

by Amanda O

The Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong is classified as a humid subtropical climate. This classification means that Hong Kong has mostly dry winters and hot summers that include high humidity and precipitation. Hong Kong has four seasons in total, but days are generally warm and increase in humidity as the months go on. Autumn is warm, breezy and a nice time to appreciate the dry and sunny days. The warm sea climate is associated with typhoons, monsoons and tropical cyclones in certain periods of the year (May to November). More in depth detail is presented below about each season. This can help in understanding what you will expect in terms of weather for each of the months you may be living there, and give you a clearer idea of the year-long weather cycles.

Summer (June-August) is generally hot, with some rainy days. The temperature and precipitation data to follow is compiled by The Hong Kong Observatory. June has an average temperature of 27.8ºC (avg low of 26.2ºC and high of 30.2ºC). The average rainfall is 456.1mm over 19 days. July sees an average of 28.8ºC (avg low of 26.8ºC and high of 31.4ºC) Average rainfall is 376.5mm over 17.6 days. August’s average is 29ºC (avg low of 28.6ºC and high of 26.6ºC), and the average rainfall is 432.2mm over 16.9 days. July holds the highest mean monthly total of sunshine hours at 212. March holds the least with 90.8. Overall per year Hong Kong has 1835.6 hours of sunlight.

Summer is the season that encounters extreme weather conditions such as typhoons. The Hong Kong Observatory is the site which locals and expats check in order to keep up to date with the weather (a link is provided below). The Observatory issues degrees of warning, ranging from Typhoon Warnings No.1- 10, and a separate warning system for rain. Both are detailed below. These will aid you in planning your day, general safety, commuting to work and whether or not your children will go to school. It is worth noting that while typhoons often occur, it is rare that they are severe, and in general you should not worry about them. Hong Kong is very advanced and organised in communicating about any changes in weather. Weather forecasts, newspapers and television news all offer warnings of incoming typhoons and rain. You can also dial 1878 2000 and press 3 to hear the latest weather updates in English. Usually after a tropical cyclone has passed there are a few branches in the street and nothing more.

Typhoon warning system

1. A tropical cyclone is within a monitored distance of Hong Kong and may affect it.
3. A strong wind is blowing in Hong Kong and may persist or increase. Children do not go to Kindergarten or nursery classes.
8. Storm force/gale force wind is increasing/anticipated to worsen. The airport is closed, flights are cancelled and businesses are closed. People remain indoors.
9. Increasing gale/storm force winds of greater strength approaching. People remain indoors.
10. Typhoon is passing over Hong Kong and hurricane winds will blow. People remain indoors.

Rain warning system

The HKO has a different warning system for rain. This is important if you are commuting, are out and will be caught in the rainfall, or have children who may be in school. Be aware of the various signs, what they entail and keep checking for updates.

AMBER- Heavy rain has fallen and may continue to do so, with rainfall of more than 30 millimetres in an hour.
RED- Heavy rain has fallen and may continue to do so with rainfall of more than 50 millimetres in an hour.
BLACK- Extremely heavy rain has fallen and may continue to do so with rainfall of more than 70 millimetres in an hour.

Humidity can be a problem during spring and summer in Hong Kong. It averages between 81-82% in the summer months. It may become uncomfortable, particularly in the densely populated areas such as Mong Kok (旺角), where transport fumes are suspended in the air with the heat. It’s best to avoid the sun on these days. Thankfully almost all commercial and residential buildings have air conditioning, not to mention most public buses and the underground MTR railway service which offers cool, clean and comfortable commutes. Cover your arms and legs with light, thin clothing to keep cool and prevent any mosquito bites. Adults can wear mosquito repellent on any exposed skin, with the repellent containing 35% or less, and for children 20%. Bring water and a cap. Wear waterproof sunscreen. Locals do not like to tan so you will notice the pavements become full with locals using their umbrellas on hot days - watch your step!

Autumn (September to November) is a favourable time of year in Hong Kong. It has cooling sea breezes, pleasant temperatures and lots of sunshine. The average temperature for September is 27.7ºC (avg low of 25.8ºC and high of 30.1ºC) and an average rainfall of 327.5mm over 14.6 days. October is 25.5ºC (avg low of 23.7ºC and high of 27.8ºC) with precipitation of 100.9mm over 7.4 days. November is 21.8ºC (avg low of 15.9ºC and high of 30.1ºC) and an average rainfall of 37.6mm over 5.4 days. Cool summer clothes such as shorts and t-shirts can be worn, and with humidity easing off a number of degrees, days are usually comfortable. If out and about bring extra clothing for the evenings when it cools a little. Many make the most of the clear days by going to the beach or exploring the mountains and views while hiking.

Winter (December-February) in Hong Kong is dry, cool and sometimes chilly. Cold fronts can feel colder than they are at night with occasional lows of 10ºC. Air cons aren’t well-equipped for cooler weather, so if you don’t have a warm air setting on your aircon, it is worth buying a winter duvet and a small heater. The average temperature for December is 17ºC (avg low of 15.9ºC and high of 20.2ºC) with precipitation of 26.8mm over 4.4 days. January is 16.3ºC (avg low of 14.5ºC and high 18.6ºC). Precipitation is 24.7mm over 5.3 days. February is 16.8ºC (avg low of 15ºC and high of 18.9ºC). The average rainfall is just 54.4mm over 9 days. Although the daylight fades sooner, life still continues in this 24 hour city, through the network of sheltered shopping malls, entertainment arcades and endless restaurants. This is your chance to get out of that winter coat and wrap up too; locals won’t shy away from keeping warm - you will see some eating dinner in hats and scarves.

Spring (March-May) sees humidity begin to rise. The humidity can vary from 82-83% throughout spring. The average temperature for March is 19.1ºC (avg low of 17.2ºC and high of 21.4ºC) with an average rainfall of 82.2mm over 10.9 days. April is 22.6ºC (avg low of 20.8ºC and high of 25ºC), with an average rainfall of 174.7mm over 12 days. May is 25.9ºC (avg low of 24.1ºC and high of 28.4ºC), and precipitation averages 304.7mm with 14.6 days. Prepare as you would for summer with light clothing and insect repellent when it is warm. Always pack warmer clothing for the evenings. Showers can be sudden, so think about packing an umbrella when you go out. If you find yourself without one or waterproof clothes, dash into the local Circle K or 7/11 who always have raincoats, ponchos and umbrellas stocked.


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